Magnificent Mount Fuji

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
Trip End Jul 14, 2012

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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hiya, Fran here!

So, on Friday 6th it was our last morning in Tokyo before heading to Mount Fuji and we got up VERY early at 3.45am to get a taxi to Tsukiji Fish Market, where they hold the famous tuna auctions. They only allow 120 people in on a first-come-first-served basis so when we got out of the taxi we rushed about trying to find out where we could get one of these tickets. It felt a little bit like 'Challenge Anneka', only slightly more crazy in a language we couldn't speak and tiny trucks whizzing about everywhere getting ready for transporting fish. It didn't help that for the first 10 minutes I was asking for the 'salmon auction' (no wonder people were looking at me like I was stupid!) but thankfully someone corrected me and after 15 mins we finally got tickets 104 & 105. Phew! We stood freezing in the queue for another 45 mins before we were lead into a waiting room.

We walked into the auction room which was full of rows of tuna. Now we understood why people had called them 'torpedoes'... they do literally look like the huge torpedoes we saw in Vietnam! Very weird! As with any auction buyers were milling around inspecting the tuna with their flash-lights and hooked-tools before the bidding began. 

When the bidding began I wish I could describe the way these guys did it. They screamed incoherently in a grouchy harsh voice, a bit like a horse race commentator on speed, bobbed up and down manically, a bit like they were desperate for the loo, all the while holding up fingers and using unknown hand gestures. Andy does a great impression so ask him when you next see him! It was great to see.

Anyway, it was a really fun but surreal morning, only slightly dampened by my newly-cleaned trousers getting tuna juice all over them and the freezing cold temperatures. Straight after the auction we learned how to use the hot-vending machines which are everywhere in Japan, and grabbed a coffee. Ah, hot coffee bliss!

By then we were ready to eat breakfast and of course as we were in the fish market we had to have a fresh sushi breakfast. We walked around the cute little streets in the middle of the market to see what was on offer. Most of the sushi sets were around 30-50 per person, but as we're on a budget we found a reasonable one and shared a sushi platter between us. It was great to watch the chefs at work creating a beautiful platter of the freshest sushi ever, and it tasted lovely (though if I'm honest there was a little bit too much wasabi for my liking because I don't like mustard!). It was a great experience - and it was still only 7.30am! 

We headed back to our capsule hotel to pack up and head to Shinjuku Station, where we caught the train to Ōtsuki Station. We were excited about using our Japan Rail Passes for the first time, but much to Andy's disappointment it was just a normal local train and not one of the famous bullet trains. Not to worry though because at Ōtsuki we caught a very bright and colourful Mount Fuji train! It didn't quite make up for it with Andy but I thought it was very sweet! 

On the cute Mount Fuji train we caught our first glimpse of the magnificent Mount Fuji. It looked awesome from far away and as you got closer you could start to appreciate the sheer size of this huge and beautiful mountain. 

This part of our Japan trip to see Mount Fuji was a wedding gift from Jo and Nigel Whittle. When we arrived at Kawaguchiko station we found some accomodation opposite the station and headed into town to start the tour. The first thing we did was walk to the cable car station which climbed to the top of Tenjo-zan. It was up here that we could really see the beautiful five-lakes area and absolutely stunning views of Mount Fuji. We could not believe how lucky we were with the weather - it couldn't have been a more perfect spring day with bright blue skies and just a wisp of clouds around Mount Fuji. At this time of year Mount Fuji is normally covered in cloud but on this day it was glorious! :0)

After staying up there for an hour or so admiring the views, we decided to crack on with the second part of the tour - a walk around Lake Kawaguchiko, one of the Fuji Five Lakes. We were still buzzing and pinching ourselves that we were here, in Japan, seeing Mount Fuji for ourselves. We have been very blessed to experience this in our lifetime!

On the walk we saw more of the tiny tourist town and a huge beautiful eagle circling the skies. The walk gave us a different aspect of Mount Fuji as well, but it was too cold up here for any cherry blossom just yet.

When we'd walked the loop and got back to town we stopped in a gorgeous little crafts and gift shop before finding our way to a local Chinese restaurant where we parked ourselves for the evening. It was a really great day! :0)

Believe it or not, finding wifi in Japan is really challenging and luckily we managed to 'borrow' some wifi at the restaurant so we took the chance to see what accommodation was available at our next stop, Kyoto. After spending three hours looking on the net and even asking the waiters to call a couple of places for us we realised we should have booked some a LONG time ago. In the end we found a place and booked just one night, hoping that when we were there we'd be able to find something affordable because it blew more than one day's budget! Gulp!

Anyway, after an exciting and inspirational day we crashed out. Thanks so much to Jo and Nigel Whittle for this gift - Mount Fuji was truly awesome! 

Next stop, Kyoto!

Bye for now,
Mrs. M xx
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